Feb 26 2015

Juan de Pablo, Institute for Molecular Engineering

February 26, 2015

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


218 CEB


810 S. Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60612

Directed Assembly at the Nanoscale – Drawing from Examples in Nature to Design Functional Materials and Commercial Fabrication Processes

Nature relies on self-assembly to create the hierarchical, ordered structures that provide the basis for life. From elementary reactions, such as the hybridization of DNA, to more complex dynamic processes, such as cell motility, biology balances thermodynamics and kinetics to attain precise spatiotemporal states that serve a purpose. Recent efforts in science and engineering have sought to replicate natural examples of self-assembly to design functional synthetic materials. In this talk, I will describe some of our own attempts to understand the assembly of macromolecules in biology, and to replicate elements of that assembly in simpler, laboratory systems. This talk will begin with an overview of our recent studies of DNA assembly in viral capsids and chromosomes, where highly localized interactions, presented at the surface of proteins, are used to compact giant macromolecules into compact, functional objects. That discussion will be followed by a presentation of our research in directed assembly of block copolymers, where localized interactions on flat surfaces are used to guide the arrangement of macromolecules into circuit-like designs for semiconductor device fabrication. I will explain how in both cases a balance between thermodynamic forces and kinetic considerations is responsible for the morphologies observed in the laboratory and how, through the application of external cues, one can drive the self-assembly process along different pathways. I will conclude the presentation by describing new evolutionary strategies, inspired by nature, in which thermodynamic and kinetic models are used to identify optimal processes for directed assembly of multiblock polymer systems – processes that are now being pursued for commercial nanofabrication of semiconductor devices and high-density storage media.


Department of Chemical Engineering

Date posted

Jun 17, 2019

Date updated

Jun 17, 2019